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An NYPD officer has been honored for his response when a group of intoxicated vagrants menaced him on the subway over the weekend[hhmc]
They had been harassing a woman inside the East Broadway subway station when the cop, on a solo foot post, responded[hhmc]
Officer Syed Ali used a baton to fend them off, and during the struggle, which turned physical, one man fell onto the tracks; he is OK[hhmc]
Three homeless men who allegedly drunkenly went after an NYPD police officer working alone in a Manhattan subway station over the weekend are expected to be arraigned Thursday on criminal charges stemming from the viral encounter.
Two of the men — Juan Nunez, 27, and Leobardo Alvarado, 31, are charged with riot and obstructing governmental administration, police said. The third, Eliseo Alvarez, 36, faces those counts as well as attempted assault, attempted criminal possession of a weapon and menacing. It wasn't clear if they had attorneys.
Two other men in the video who appeared to be trying to break up the Sunday night scuffle at the East Broadway subway station aren't facing charges.
The altercation started after a woman told NYPD officer Syed Ali, who was on solo foot post inside the station, that she was being harassed by a group of men.
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Ali approached the men, who were visibly intoxicated, and asked them to leave the station, police said. The men refused to leave and became combative, and started tussling with the cop, cellphone video taken by a bystander shows.
"Stand back. I don't want to hurt you," the cop shouted repeatedly at the men as they approached him, waving his baton at them.
The officer kicked one of the men to fend him off, and another tried to go after the officer — but ended up tumbling onto the tracks, the video showed. Ali had the power shut off and the man was taken off the tracks; he wasn't hurt.
Footage of the encounter has been viewed more than 4.75 million times on social media in a matter of days. Ali, an Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, never pulled his gun — an example of restraint that has earned him widespread praise from the department and city officials, including the mayor.
Police cited the men the following day for sleeping on the station floor but not for the altercation. The Manhattan district attorney's office dropped that case, citing a policy curbing prosecution of those kinds of low-level violations.
But as the video got more and more attention, the decision not to pursue the case drew criticism from Ali's union, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, which said the men "should be held accountable for their actions." The DA's office said prosecutors who declined to move forward on the sleeping-related violations were not aware the men also were involved in the NYPD altercation.
Cop Fights Off Menacing Vagrants in Subway Station
"There is no telling how much damage these mopes would have done to that courageous police officer had he not been equipped to handle them," union president Patrick Lynch said in a statement.
The men weren't arrested until the next morning, when police spotted them back at the East Broadway station and cited them for sleeping on the floor.
"When people are arrested for attacking officers, we prosecute them," said Danny Frost, a spokesman for the DA's office. "These men were not arrested for attacking an officer, they were arrested for sleeping on the floor of a subway station — a rules violation, not a crime."